Monday, November 12, 2018

Concerned Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Parents Seek Answers About Alleged Student Gun Threat - School Principal Silent For 2 Weeks, RIOC Public Safety Chief Tells Parent What Happened

Last October 24, I received reports of a large NYPD presence earlier in the morning at Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217

and that a threat with a gun was made by a student.

I asked PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman:
There was a large Nypd presence at Ps/is 217 this morning.

I’m told a student claimed to have a gun.

Is that true? Was the school shut down?

Do you have any statement on incident?
Principal Beckman never replied.

In response to my inquiry, a NYPD spokesperson replied there was a dispute between a student and teacher but that no gun was involved.

The issue was raised again last Thursday, November 8, when a concerned PS/IS 217 parent sent this message to the Roosevelt Island Parents Network:
Possibly someone can clarify me a doubt. Could somebody explain to me why no one is doing anything (PSD, RIOC, PS/IS217, DOE, NYPD, etc.) or why are some parents more concerned about the Library Fair than the threat of gunfire at the Island’s school?

As many of you know, a student at PS/IS 217 has threatened his classmates to bring a gun to school and shoot them, he also claimed to have access to the gun, as a reference he has friendship with the shooter of Manhattan Park, whose gun was not found per NYPD information....

... Last night happened a new mass shooting (number 307 so far this year).

Hopefully somebody can answer my questions.
On Friday, November 9, I again asked PS/IS 217 Principal Beckman about the alleged gun incident at the school.
... Do you have any comment on this important safety issue for Roosevelt Island and PS/IS 217 parents....
No response from Ms Beckman to my second inquiry but she did send this message to 217 Parents on Friday:
Dear Parents/Guardians,

The safety and well being of all students and staff members at PS/IS 217 remain our highest priority. Towards that end, we understand that there have been questions in the community regarding an alleged threat that took place two weeks ago. Though we are not at liberty to share information about particular students or specific follow-up related to any student, we assure you that every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of all students and staff.

We look forward to your continued partnership as we work together to ensure PS/IS 217 continues to provide the best and safest learning environment possible for all of its students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 212-980-0294.

Sincerely yours,

Mandana Beckman

Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 parent Sangeeta Joseph (correction, Ms Joseph is not a 217 parent) reports on her conversation Friday, November 9 with Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Safety Chief Jack McManus about the school incident. According to Ms. Joseph:
Chief Jack McManus ... called me back to give out the facts of what really happened at PS 217 a couple of weeks ago.

The facts are as follows:
  1. An 11 year old child had his/her phone taken away at school and responded by verbally threatening to return and shoot. (It has been confirmed that the child does not have access to a gun.)
  2. Both PSD and NYPD got involved immediately and the parents of this child were contacted and spoken to. There is no legal requirement on what action the parents have to take and so there is no additional news on what follow up they have done personally with their child.
It appears that the main issue with this incident is the lack of communication from PS 217 about the incident taking place and having to hear it from a random email. Although we should not scrutinize every single flippant thing kids say on the playground, in today's day and age with gun violence at school's being so common place this is a particularly sensitive topic that we cannot take lightly. Schools should be advising students on things that are unacceptable to do/say and advising parents on topics that they must talk to/re-iterate with their kids at home.

At the same time we should keep a little bit of perspective - this is an 11 year old child who said something incredibly stupid in a fit of frustration. Even us as adults can admit to being guilty of saying things we don't really mean. As a community we should be concerned but equally empathetic to this childs emotional state as well as his/her parents state.

Lastly, Chief McManus has also asked whether the parents would like to have a town hall to discuss some of these issues? If you prefer we could also work on holding a video conference call so that more parents can dial in and submit questions.
Rumors spread when information is hidden from the public. Best to communicate quickly and honestly with the Roosevelt Island community.